Skip to Content

How Long Does It Take to Train for a 5k? | 3 Sample Training Schedules

Determining how long it takes to train for a 5k is an important factor in any runner’s training. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not always as straightforward as one might hope.

How long does it take to train for a 5k?

For most runners, training for a 5k takes about 4 – 8 weeks. However, the ranges varies greatly depending on each runner’s current fitness level, availability, commitment and goals.

Runners training for a specific time goal or PR often spend more time training to incorporate speed and interval workouts. Beginner runners typically take longer to train for their very first 5k, as they need to spend time increasing fitness to work up to the distance.

Many long distance runners enjoy racing 5ks as a way to stay motivated and fit during their training, resulting in spending very little time actually training for a 5k.

Is a month enough time to train for a 5k?

Most new and beginner runners require more than a month’s time to train for a 5k. Typically, beginner runners can train for a 5k in about 8 – 12 weeks.

Seasoned runners, especially distance runners, can usually successfully train for a 5k in a month or even less.

How long is a 5k in miles?

A 5k race is 5 kilometers, which is the equivalent of 3.1 miles in length.

What’s a good 5k time for beginners?

One of the biggest appeals of running is that there is very rarely a “standard” or “average” time for most races. Some runners plan to walk the course, others race to place, and the majority simply run for pleasure.

Because of this, it’s hard to quantify a “good” 5k time for beginners. The majority of seasoned runners complete a 5k in somewhere around 30 minutes, however, for many new runners, this is unattainable. Most beginners finish a 5k in anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes, meaning that they run a pace of somewhere between 10 – 13 minutes per mile.

Many new runners wonder how long it takes to train for a 5k. Here is an answer to get you started, plus 3 training schedules for 4-12 weeks.

How Long Does It Take to Train for a 5k: 4 Factors

There are many factors that effect how long it takes to train for a 5k. Some runners are able to train in under a month, while others take 6 months or more to work up to the distance. Here are 4 factors that will impact how long it takes to train for a 5k run.

Fitness Level

The most influential factor in how long it will take to train for a 5k is fitness. If someone is just starting running with no previous experience, they will likely spend a month or two building endurance and gradually increasing run time versus walk time.

On the other hand, runners who already have built a base will likely be able to increase their distance within just a few weeks.

Availability

Another contributing factor to 5k training time is availability. Frequency of training plays a large role in how quickly runners are able to increase their distance and improve their fitness. Runners who train two days a week will likely take much longer to complete their 5k training than those who commit to 5 – 6 days per week.

Motivation

Simply deciding to train for a 5k really means nothing without the motivation to go along with it. Sticking to a training plan and staying consistent might sound easy at first, but when life gets busy or running starts to get difficult, motivation is what gets most runners through.

Those who stay motivated to accomplish their goals, even when things get tough, will find that it takes a lot less time to train for a 5k.

Goals

One final factor that influences the amount of time it takes to train for a 5k is your goal. Some runners simply hope to complete the distance, while others plan to achieve a new PR. Training for a specific goal will likely require more workouts and structured training, whereas simply running for fun can be a bit more flexible.

How to Train for a 5k in 4 Weeks

In order to train for a 5k in 4 weeks, you’ll either need to have already built a running base, or be open to using a run/walk method on race day. Here is a sample structure to use to guide a 4 week 5k training plan for beginners.

  • Week 1: 4 runs per week, working up to 1 mile of running by the end of week 1
  • Week 2: 4 runs per week, working up to 2 miles of running by the end of week 2
  • Week 3: 4 runs per week, working up to 3 miles of running by the end of week 3
  • Week 4: 3 runs this week, beginning to taper with no more than a 2 mile run

How to Train for a 5k in 8 Weeks

Many 5k training plans can be completed in 8 weeks. This is a great length of time for beginner runners who have already run/walk a 5k and are hoping to improve. It can also work for new runners who are working up to running/walking the distance.

  • Week 1: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 0.5 mile of running by the end of week 1
  • Week 2: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 1 mile of running by the end of week 2
  • Week 3: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 1.5 miles of running by the end of week 3
  • Week 4: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 2 miles of running by the end of week 4
  • Week 5: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 2.5 miles of running by the end of week 5
  • Week 6: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 3 miles of running by the end of week 6
  • Week 7: 3-4 runs per week, beginning to taper with no more of 2.5 miles of running at a time
  • Week 8: 2 runs this week, continuing to taper with nor more than 2 miles of running at a time

How to Train for a 5k in 12+ Weeks

Taking 12 weeks to train for a 5k is a great option for beginner runners who want to feel really confident on race day. Three months allows plenty of time to build a running base, get comfortable with the distance, and adapt to the new activity.

12 week 5k training plans are also a popular option for seasoned runners hoping to race the distance or conquer a PR. Here is a sample structure for beginners preparing to run their first 5k.

  • Week 1: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 0.5 mile of running at a time
  • Week 2: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 1 mile of running at a time
  • Week 3: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 1.5 miles of running at a time
  • Week 4: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 2 miles of running at a time
  • Week 5: 3-4 runs per week, continuing with 2 miles of running at a time
  • Week 6: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 2.5 miles of running at a time
  • Week 7: 3-4 runs per week, continuing with 2 miles of running at a time
  • Week 8: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 3 miles of running at a time
  • Week 9: 3-4 runs per week, continuing with 3 miles of running at a time
  • Week 10: 3-4 runs per week, working up to 3.5 miles of running – peak week!
  • Week 11: 3-4 runs per week, beginning to taper with no more of 2.5 miles of running at a time
  • Week 12: 2-3 runs this week, continuing to taper with nor more than 2 miles of running at a time

Running a 5k race has become such a popular option because training is so versatile. Those who are brand-new to the sport can test the waters with a 5k race, while advanced and professional runners can spend time training to place or accomplish a new PR.

It’s important to understand that how long it takes to train for a 5k will vary greatly from one runner to the next. One runner might be able to prepare for the race in just a few weeks, while others spend months in training.

Try to avoid comparing yourself to other runners around you, and instead focus on your progress, what is working, and staying motivated. With each 5k you complete, you’ll become more comfortable, confident, and excited.

Free 5k Training Plan

If you’re ready to commit to your very first 5k, this 30 day training plan will help you go from 0 to 5k in just a month! Use it to guide your training and develop a running base to make it through 3.1 miles on race day.

Download the 5k training place for free!

More resources for how long it takes to train for a 5k: